ELIZABETH OF SCHOENAU: German mystic; b. about 1129; d. at Schisnau (6 m. n.e. of Heidelberg) June 18, 1164. When twelve years of age, she entered the monastery at Schiinau in Nassau, and in 1152 she began to see visions which are fully described in her three books of Visiones (of. the edition by F. W. E. Roth, Brünn, 1884, and the earlier editions noted in the bibliography). They commenced with a feeling of heavy oppression and with convulsions, ending in unconsciousness. In this state she saw heavenly forms which she was able to describe when she awoke. The visions later became more frequent and lasting, so that she could converse with the celestial apparitions and question them. It was usually either the saint of the day or the Virgin who appeared to her, but the visions seldom transcended the horizon of a simple soul, which remained childlike amid monastic surroundings. Her interests were limited to questions connected with monastic piety, as when she asked Mary for a true description of her assumption, or sought from the angels a confirmation of the authenticity of the relics of the 11,000 virgins which had been found at Cologne. Ecbert's description of her death shows that to the last she remained a childlike, pure, lovely, and humble soul, and despite all visionary eccentricity her religious nature remained in the main simple and healthy. Her own writings were supplemented by Ecbert as seemed best to him. The first book of the Viszortzs and the Libzr viarum Dei were much read during the Middle Ages.

R. Schmid.

Bibliography: J. Faber f3tapuleneis, Liter mum viromm d mum virpinum spiritualium, Paris, 1513 (contains the Visions, reprinted in RevelaG,onea a anctarum varginum Hildegardie et Eliwbethce, Cologne, 1828 and in MPL, cacv. Consult: W. Preger, Geschichte' der deutscJten Myatik, i. 37 sqq., Leipsic, 1874.

ELIZABETH, SAINT, SISTERS OF: 1. A name often given to the nuns of the third order of St. Francis. Their origin is uncertain, but was not due to St. Elizabeth of Thuringia (q.v.). Angelina di Corbara, Countess of Civitella (d. 1435), founded a community of Franciscan tertiaries at Foligno (in Umbria, 20 m. e.s.e. of Perugia) in 1395, which in 1428 became a congregation with several houses, and was confirmed by Pope Eugenius IV. in 1436; that they bore the name of St. Elizabeth, however, can not be confidently asserted. Toward the end of the fifteenth century there was a considerable number of Elizabeth-houses in Italy, Germany, and France, partly subject to the Franciscan Observants, and in part to the diocesan bishops. The latter were given the rule of the t)rd order of St.

Francis by Leo X. in 1521, while the former received the revised constitution of the Poor Clarea. They wore a gray dress (gray acapulary, five-knotted girdle, and black veil), whence the popular name " gray sisters." There were also " brown sisters "; steers de la faille (who wore cloaks and gathered alms); "cell-sisters," who went out as nurses; hospital nurses, etc. At the middle of the sixteenth century the order had 4,000 members and 135 convents; in 1900 there were one house in France, one in Belgium, three houses in Bavaria, four in Prussia, and eleven in Austria.

2. Distinct from the above is the St. Elizabeth Society or Gray Sisters of St. Elizabeth, founded at Neisae in Upper Silesia in 1842 by Maria Merkert (d. 1872), with the help of her sister, Mathilde, and two other young women of the Roman Catholic Church. They take simple vows for three years and devote themselves to the work of nursing the sick, helping the poor, caring for children, and the like. Pins IX. in 1871 accorded them the status of a religious society. In 1892 they had about 140 establishments with more than 800 members.

(O. Zöckler.)

Bibliography: Helyot; Ordres monaatiquea, vii . 301-312;

Heimbucher, Orden cared Kongregationen, ii 504-505, 528, iii. 389 sqq.; Carrier. Religious Orders, p. 253; R. Bungs, Deutsche Samariterianen, Leipsic, 1883 (with life of Maria Merkert): J. Jungnits, Die Kongregationsn der prausn Schmeatern von der Asiligen Elisabeth, Breslau, 1892; Carrier, Religious Orders, p. 550.


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